I used the Paslode in the shop while we were building some simple bookcases. I normally use an 18-gauge brad nailer in the controlled environment of the shop because I can always use a clamp if the nail doesn't draw the joint tight enough during glue-up, but I didn't have that problem with the Paslode nailer. The wider 16-gauge fastener, along with the tool's extra punch, easily drove the nails home, pulling the face frame to the carcase. Controlling the driving direction of the fastener was easy with the angled body style, and the extra clearance afforded by the design meant the magazine was not likely to bump against the face of the workpiece the way a straight magazine can.

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One thing I have always liked about 16-gauge nails is the shape of the nail head. Whereas 15-gauge nails have a round head, which matches old-school hand-driven nails, 16-gauge nails – including the angled-Paslode nails – have a little rectangular T-shaped head. The advantage to this design is that the slender hole it leaves is easier to conceal on wood receiving a natural finish; you just need to make sure the rectangle is oriented parallel to the grain.

To see if this tool would be worth adding to the burgeoning collection of tools and gear that we haul to job sites, I tested it in the field on a large trim job that included two-piece crown molding, two-piece base, and 5/4 casing. The nailer had no problem pounding 21/2-inch nails through molding and studs and even made firm connections when nailing up sections of 2-by blocking. It handled comfortably all day; its light weight, compact size, and comfortable grip really reduced the daily fatigue level.

The only task I didn't feel comfortable using the Paslode for was intricate detail work like mitered returns. I assembled some crown returns in both solid cherry and MDF, and although the nailer worked in this application, it was somewhat awkward to hold in position compared with the 23-gauge pinner I would normally use. For returns, the fastener only has to hold the profile together while the glue sets, so in my opinion 16-gauge nails are too large for this type of detail work and pose too much risk of blowing a nail out the side of the molding.

To make the tool's sightline as accurate as possible, I sometimes used the Pasode without its no-mar tip, as I do with many of my trim nailers. To its credit, it did not noticeably mar the wood when used this way.

The Verdict

The Paslode T250A-F16 is a real winner, and the best 16-gauge finish nailer I've ever used. I will probably maintain my practice of using 15-gauge nails for most work along with 18-gauge brads for the small stuff, but if I could have only one finish nailer, I would pick this Paslode for its versatility. It easily handles larger jobs and is still small and accurate enough to take care of most detail work.

It's not a suitable replacement for other nailers in all instances; I would still use heavier 15-gauge nails in door jambs, and brads or pins for small details like mitered returns. However, its perfect combination of ergonomics, performance, features, and price make this tool a great option for the finish carpenter anywhere 16-gauge finish nails are right for the job. It's a tool I wouldn't leave sitting on the shelf.

David Getts is an architectural woodworker, remodeler, and author. He owns David Getts Design in Seattle.

Paslode
T250A-F16 Trim Nailer
Price $179
800-222-6990
www.paslode.com